We use a similar idea in Fig. 5, but this time we focus on an F major triad—another triad found in the B Super Locrian/C melodic minor scale. This gives us an implied B7b5b9, which is another cool sound to use in this context. As with the previous example listen to how I use the scale and try it yourself.
Fig. 6 is a melodic phrase you might play when thinking of the triads contained in the scale. For the sake of study, I’ve marked each triad on the score. Look it over carefully to see how these triads are used together. This idea of using triads from within a scale as the basis of melodies is an instant way to inject something exciting into your playing, so try writing 100 of your own.
Fig. 7 shows you the diatonic 7 chords found in the C melodic minor scale. As with the triads, I found it very useful to sit with these four-note arpeggios and compose endless lines that integrate them. At the end of this process, I must have had 100 licks and although they may not all be things I remember, they act of doing it dramatically improved my ability to spontaneously create lines when improvising.
This next lick in Fig. 8 uses the above concept, mixing an Ebmaj7#5 and F7 arpeggio in one line. These are two little arpeggios I use all the time when playing over this tonality. While you might love them, you might also find you prefer other sounds, so experimentation is key. This lick would sound great if played in the fourth measure of a blues in B, especially if you can resolve smoothly to the E7 you’ll find in the fifth measure.
The final lick in Fig. 9 expands on the ideas we’ve just covered. We mix the same two arpeggios, but we lead into the arpeggios with a scalar idea and a chromatic passing tone from the F down to the Eb. This is also important, as I want you to see that when we start using ideas like this it doesn’t mean that everything else we’ve covered goes in the bin. In fact it’s the blending of every concept together that really makes things cook. Just remember, the listener wants to hear your music and ideas—not your exercises—so get creating!
One last, rather daunting, prospect: We’ve only looked at these ideas in one position of the CAGED system, so as promised last month, here are the other four for you to start getting under your fingers. Use them over the B7alt backing track below. Treat them just as we have this one by applying the same approaches, and before long you’ll be playing outside so well you’ll feel like you’re in the park.
B7alt. Backing Track
Levi Clay is a London-based guitar player, teacher, and transcriber. His unique approach to learning keeps him in constant demand from students the world over, and his expertise as a transcriber has introduced his work to a whole new audience. For more information, check out leviclay.com.